Researching the Use of Tippy-Taps in Uganda

To document the process through which tippy-taps are promoted and identify lessons for future interventions, the Water and Sanitation Program’s Global Scaling  Up Handwashing Project conducted research in six villages in Uganda.

Among other findings, householders who constructed tippy-taps described varying degrees of satisfaction with them.  Some felt the tippy-taps looked modern and attractive and felt this was a good reason to construct them, while others felt that they were not more effective than using a jerry can or a bowl for handwashing. Households with a tippy-tap believed that their post-latrine handwashing rates had increased as a result of the tippy-taps. However, uptake appeared to be driven more by the “push” of the intervention and concerns surrounding household inspections by health workers rather than the “pull” of the technology. In addition, there seemed to be little knowledge of tippy-taps in non-model villages. For complete results see Enabling Technologies for Handwashing with Soap: A Case Study on the Tippy-Tap in Uganda.

“Sustained uptake and use will only be achieved at scale if this technology addresses a felt need in a way that appeals to potential users,” reports researcher Adam Biran of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.  One of the conclusions of the report is that additional research is needed to understand consumer needs in relation to handwashing technologies and to quantify the uptake of existing technologies and their impact on handwashing rates.

The study focused on two projects in which tippy-taps had been introduced into model villages, with the intention that handwashing behavior change  in the model villages would encourage non-model villages to adopt similar practices. To research the case study, data was collected in three model and three non-model villages in Mbarara and Ibanda Districts through semi-structured interviews with householders, semi-structured interviews with key informants, and spot-check observations of hand washing facilities.

A tippy-tap consists of a 3-to-5-liter jerry can that is filled with water and suspended from a wooden frame.  A string attached to the neck of the jerry can is tied to a piece of wood at ground level. Soap is suspended from the frame beside the jerry can, and pressing with the foot on the wood tips the jerry can, releasing a stream of water through a small hole.  Located close to a latrine, a tippy-tap can provide a convenient and inexpensive means of washing hands after toilet use.

Tippy-taps are but one kind of enabling technology for handwashing. An enabling technology is an external or environmental factor that influences individuals’ opportunity to perform a behavior, regardless of an individuals’ ability and motivation to act. Often overlooked in the design of handwashing initiatives, enabling technologies have been shown to facilitate handwashing behavior in several studies. For more information, see WSP’s Enabling Technologies for Handwashing Database.

Global Scaling Up Handwashing is a WSP project focused on learning how to apply innovative promotional approaches to behavior change to generate widespread and sustained improvements in handwashing with soap at scale among women of reproductive age (ages 15-49) and primary school-age children (ages 5-9). The project is being implemented by local and national governments with technical support from WSP.

For more information about Global Scaling Up Handwashing and related publications, visit or contact Eduardo A. Perez,